“So who’s playing hearts?” Alan asked at the train station, his eyes fixed on me. We were tied 1-1 on the trip. The trip home would be his chance to prove to me who was the best at hearts. By the end of the trip, we were 2-2, and, while I was losing to him when the train pulled into Ventimiglia, the 5th game had not been finished, and we will never know who would have won it. So we’re still tied. We considered playing on the bus from Italy back to Aix, but in the end we did not. I put in my headphones and slept. When I woke up, we had arrived in the rain in Aix, tired, hesitant to say our goodbyes before spring break, trying to figure out what had happened in Venice. What happened in Venice? I developed a taste for cappuccinos. I saw a church, every surface of which contains a masterpiece by Tintoretto. I did a month’s worth of paintings in a week. I learned that when the sun rises over the Salute, the water burns in blue and pink. I discovered that a building made of solid stone can take flight, bursting with circles, up into the sky. I learned that tempo brutto brings gray and that sunset brings orange. I learned the feeling of sheer exhaustion that comes after pouring out one’s entire being onto a small piece of canvas. I was simultaneously beaten down and supported by the humbling power of a city built on the water. Next time I will bring larger canvasses.
-O'Neill Cushman, Alumni Fellow